Friday, March 20, 2009

Kate Gets Domestic, or The Importance of Power Tools in Decorating

I decided a few weeks ago to take today and Monday off. I have been avoiding a lot of chores and errands, using excuses like, "But I don't want to spend a quarter of my weekend ironing." Yes. I actually avoid ironing with such skill that the "to be ironed" section of my closet merits designation as a large-scale project/federal disaster area. But when your weekend is twice as long as usual, there is no excuse. That said, I couldn't face my wrinkly shirts on the first day of Kate's Big Productive Weekend, so I opted for domestic project number two:

Do something with the big, awesome map I bought at Eastern Market IN DECEMBER that is still sitting on the floor next to the TV.

Long ago, when I was foraging for Christmas presents, I visited the map man at Eastern Market, who happened to have these sweet city planning maps of D.C., including one with our apartment. Unfortunately, it is big and an odd size, and I have been too lazy/cheap/unmotivated to get it matted and framed. I decided I could get a shelf at Target and stand the map up on the shelf. I know this sounds weird, but I promise it sort of works in person.

With this plan, I commenced avoiding a Target field trip, until I realized that this long weekend would give me the perfect opportunity to go, with the added bonus of missing the masses that descend upon Target on the real weekend. This is how I ended up in our apartment this afternoon with my delightful shelf, puzzling over the instructions for mounting it on a wall.

Brief time-out: bear in mind that I picked "Project Interior Decorating" instead of "Project Actually Have Clothes to Wear to Work Again" mostly because of the equipment involved. DeWalt drill = way cooler than miscellaneous iron. Before I even went to Target, I unpacked my drill and started charging one of the batteries. I was excited.

Then I came home with my overpriced chunk of particle board and was a little sad to see that the instructions called for a screwdriver. Just a regular old screwdriver without any voltage. I consoled myself with the sweet drywall anchors and the fact that with their hanging hardware, it seemed like I had a shot at making the shelf level on the first try. And if you know me, you know that whatever I build/assemble will probably end up level(ish) but that it might take four or five extra holes in a wall and at least that many expletives.

As it turns out, the hanging hardware provided with the shelf was a complete farce.

We will overlook the drywall anchors that were totally useless, because it's possible that I shouldn't have even tried to use them on our walls; whatever. I abandoned those and decided to screw the bracket on which I was to hang the shelf into the wall. DeWalt to the rescue! Pre-drilling was the only way those screws were going to go into the wall; I seriously hope no poor schmuck tried to use a screwdriver and elbow grease.

So the bracket was on the wall, and it was shockingly level, considering that there were only three new holes in the wall and all of them were in use. Now to slide the hardware on the shelf onto the wall bracket, and...

...and why is the shelf still in my hands instead of on the wall? Shit.

Now, I have no misconceptions about my strength as a scholar of physics. But even I have a vague understanding of gravity and force and vectors-- concepts that seem to have eluded the person who designed this misnomer-ed "hanging hardware."

Nor do I presume to be a scholar of the law, but I have some idea of what liability is and of the fact that you probably have some if the shelf you put on the wall over your couch falls off the wall and onto the person sitting on your couch.

However, I can definitely, authoritatively tell you a thing or two about shoddy construction. And I know that in the absence of inherent structural integrity, you can just keep adding shit until all the ancillary pieces you throw into the mix hold your original thing together.

It is with this philosophy in mind that I embarked on a field trip to the hardware store, where I acquired a variety of festive metal brackets in a delightful brass finish. And after much pre-drilling and second-guessing about whether two brackets would be enough (answer: when you're as paranoid as I am, two is not enough-- two on the bottom and two smaller brackets on the top is closer without looking like you're completely psychotic), I am pleased to report that the shelf has been on the wall and the map has been on the shelf for six hours now. It is shockingly level, at least in the plane that mattered to me. And it has yet to fall on anyone's head.

Although if I have to fix the shelf, maybe I can put off ironing a little longer.

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